Press Release
September 2, 2006


Whether the dismissal by the Commission on Elections of the petition for peoples initiative to amend the Constitution is scripted or not, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said there is hardly a possibility that the Supreme Court will overrule the poll bodys decision.

Pimentel said the Comelec deserves to be complimented for throwing out the petition, filed by the Sigaw ng Bayan and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), in conformity with the Supreme Court ruling in 1997 that there was no adequate enabling law to govern the system of peoples initiative for Charter amendment.

He said the Comelec, under the leadership of Chairman Benjamin Abalos, did itself a favor by correctly ruling on the case because it had the effect of making up for the steady erosion of its reputation due to its bungling of the 2004 presidential election and the poll modernization program.

Maybe it would restore the credibility of Comelec by an inch, the senator remarked.

Pimentel said it would be very hard for the Supreme Court to reverse its decision, in the Santiago vs. Comelec case, in which it held that Republic Act 6735 (Peoples Initiative and Referendum Act) was insufficient for the purpose of amending the Constitution with finality.

Since the Supreme Courts decision on the issue was final, no more consideration can be made, he said of the plan of Sigaw ng Bayan and Ulap to elevate the case to the high tribunal.

A noted constitutional expert opined: When a law is declared insufficient by the Supreme Court for want of sufficient standards, it means that the law is dead and a later Supreme Court cannot resuscitate it. To do so would be to exercise legislative power which the Court does not have.

Pimentel said the only legally acceptable alternative to revive the Charter Change through peoples initiative is for Congress to enact an entirely new law that will govern this political process.

But to do so at this stage would be too late for Jose de Venecia purposes considering that the May, 2007 congressional and local elections are drawing near, he said.

Pimentel said even assuming that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Sigaw-Pirma petition, the move to amend the Charter via peoples initiative still will not prosper because the Constitution clearly provides that a major revision of the Charter such as the proposed shift from presidential to parliamentary system of government cannot be undertaken through this mode of amendment.

He said the Constitution is very clear that the system of peoples initiative can only used for amendments simple changes in individual provisions of the fundamental law.

Moreover, the peoples initiative must be left to the people not to politicians in power like De Venecia and the Ulap governors or mayors, the senator said.

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